Banana Cupcakes

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Back to baking

For the past month I've been busy with my courses and application deadlines, which left me no time for testing out recipes. It’s been a stressful time, but the outcome is turning out pretty positive. Now that classes are over (only one exam to go and the semester is officially done!), I'm back in the kitchen, finally!

Writing is part of what kept me away from the kitchen. In March, I applied to a literary contest for the first time. The prize was an all-expense paid two-week long workshop abroad. The organization holding the competition received nearly 1000 submissions, so I didn’t have high expectations. Simply going for it and applying made me pretty proud of myself. The winners were announced last Friday. Yesterday, I received an e-mail informing me that I was offered a merit-based fellowship (which consists of a partial tuition waiver) ! SO excited… unfortunately the dates of the workshop coincide with a student exchange I’ve been nominated for Down Under (!!! more on that in a later post). Hopefully my tuition waiver can be deferred to next year!

These banana cupcakes are delicious. Rather than topping the cupcakes with a frosting, the Baked boys spread some pastry cream on them. Pastry cream is more commonly used in French pastries, so pairing it with cupcakes is a refreshing twist. Make sure the pastry cream has completely cooled and firmed up before piping it onto the cupcakes.

Rather than spreading the pastry cream onto the cupcakes as a frosting, I used it as a filling. The banana cupcakes were begging to be paired with a chocolate icing, so I used Nigella's icing recipe from her old fashioned chocolate cake. I chilled the icing in the fridge before piping it onto the cupcakes. If you choose to do as I did, you will have lots of pastry cream left over. Also, this chocolate icing recipe won't make enough to cover all 24 cupcakes.

As a finishing touch you can decorate the cupcakes with dried banana chips. Alternatively, you can slice a fresh banana and caramelize it like you would a crème brûlée with some granulated sugar and a blow torch.

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p.s. I mentioned in the previous post where I found my kitchen accessories used in my shots. Most of the plates and cutlery are family heirlooms, but I made some nice finds by going to second hand shops. Recently, I went to Ten Thousand Villages, one of my favourite shops. Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit Fair Trade organization throughout North America that sells personal accessories and home decor crafted by artisans around the world. It’s all about creating sustainable work and relationships. I found beautiful and affordable kitchen accessories ranging from 5$ to 10$.

Recipes Sources: Baked (cupcakes and pastry cream), and Feast by Nigella Lawson (chocolate frosting)

Yields 24 cupcakes

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Ingredients:
•cupcakes
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
1/2 cup buttermilk
•pastry cream
3 cups half-and-half
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•chocolate icing
75 grams (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
175 grams (6 oz) bittersweet chocolate
300 grams (2 1/2 cups) icing sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Instructions:
•cupcakes
1) Preheat the oven to 325F.
2) Line cupcake pans with 24 liners.
3) Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
4) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together for 3 to 4 minutes on medium speed, until creamy.
5) Add the sugar and vanilla, beating for 3 minutes on medium speed, until fluffy.
6) Add the eggs, beating until incorporated.
7) Add the bananas, beating until incorporated.
8) Lower the speed of the mixer and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk and ending with the flour mixture.
9) Pour the batter into the cupcake liners.
10) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
11) Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
12) Remove the cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely.
•pastry cream
1) Set a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Set aside.
2) Bring the half-and-half to a simmer.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cornstarch together until pale, about 1 minute.
4) Pour half of the warm half-and-half into the egg mixture, whisking until incorporated.
5) Pour all of the egg mixture into the saucepan.
6) Cook over medium heat, whisking continuously until the mixture has thickened, about 6 minutes. Mine started bubbling under 6 minutes.
7) Remove the saucepan from the heat.
8) Add the vanilla.
9) Pour the mixture over the sieve into the bowl that was set aside earlier.
•chocolate icing
1) Melt the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan of simmering water. Set aside.
2) Blitz the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor sugar into the food processor to removing lumps.
3) Add the light corn syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture.
4) Add the sour cream and vanilla to the chocolate mixture.
5) Pour the chocolate mixture into the food processor and blitz until the icing is smooth.
6) Cover the pastry cream with plastic wrap, making sure it touches the surface of the cream.
7) Let the pastry cream chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
•assembly
1) Use a cupcake corer to remove the centre of the cupcakes.
2) Fill the holes with pastry cream.
3) Use a piping bag to swirl the icing onto the cupcakes.

Store the cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge. The pastry cream cannot be left at room temperature.

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